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Twins 6, Blue Jays 5: Twins Walk Off the Jays to End a Wild Game


Twins Daily Contributor

After being up 5-0, the Twins failed to capitalize on offense, allowing Toronto to tie the game in the ninth. Thanks to the bullpen and some lousy defense by Toronto, the Twins were able to get a wild walk-off win in extras to even the series.

 

Box Score
Starting Pitcher: Tyler Mahle, 6 IP, 5H, 4R, 4ER, 1BB, 5K (86 pitches, 61 strikes, 70.9%)
Home Runs: Mark Contreras (2), Nick Gordon (5)
Top 3 WPA: Michael Fulmer (.307), Carlos Correa (.205), Jhoan Duran (.118)
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
1799940802_chart(1).png.f2ccdfa3db28794efcce3d561e1c90ed.png

A good turnout showed up at Target Field on a lovely evening, and all eyes were on the Twins’ new starter Tyler Mahle, who was set to make his first start for Minnesota since being acquired at the trade deadline. Well, some hundreds of eyes might’ve also been on old friend and still beloved by all, José Berríos, especially those of Blue Jays fans all over the place.

The first two innings of this game seemed to set the tone: it was going to be a pitchers’ duel. Both starters faced the minimum, with Berríos needing only 14 pitches to do so – 12 fewer pitches than Mahle. But things took a shift in a very different direction once the third inning started.

After Mahle pitched around a leadoff walk in the top of the inning, Berríos suffered his first punch. Mark Contreras fell behind in the count 0-2, but he came back to crush a line drive to left-center for his second home run in the big leagues, putting the Twins on the board.

Berríos limited the damage to the one run heading to the fourth, and while Mahle continued to dominate the Blue Jay lineup, the former Twins ace just lost it. After Mahle tossed a quick, 1-2-3 top of the fourth on seven pitches, Berríos’ nightmare against his old teammates was about to start. Carlos Correa and Jorge Polanco opened up the home fourth with a long double and a walk, respectively. Next, José Miranda lined a single to center to push Correa across.

Then, Nick Gordon didn’t waste any time and jumped on the first pitch he saw for a three-run bomb to right-center. A definite no-doubter to break the game wide open, making it 5-0 Twins before Berríos could even record an out. Minnesota’s offense continued to pound him, and after a Tim Beckham one-out single and a Sandy León two-out walk, Berríos was pulled from the game.

Toronto rallies back with three home runs
After four innings of sheer dominance over the Blue Jays lineup, Mahle started to lose his stuff. After retiring seven batters in a row and just as he was one out away from delivering a scoreless fifth, he gave up a two-out home run to Matt Chapman, putting Toronto on the board. He completed five innings of one-run ball on only sixty pitches, still in his second time through the order.

But just as Berríos’ first home run given up gave Minnesota some momentum, Chapman’s dinger did exactly the same. After a lengthy at-bat by Raimel Tapia to start the sixth inning, Toronto’s number nine hitter, Santiago Espinal, hit a one-out solo homer to center to score the visitors’ second run. Newcomer Whit Merrifield, a career .297 hitter against the Twins, followed Espinal’s home run with a single that set Blue Jays fans on fire at Target Field.

Then, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. crushed a long two-run dong to cut Minnesota’s lead to 5-4. Mahle managed to get back on track and finish the inning, but only after he tossed 26 pitches, the most out of any inning in this game. By doing so, he became the first Twins starter to complete six innings in a game in almost two weeks.

Bullpen withstands pressure, but missed opportunities prove costly
On Thursday, the Twins bullpen had one of the worst outings of the season, giving up all nine Toronto runs in a devastating loss. Tonight, they had a great opportunity to rebound from such an awful display, and they did a fine job. Griffin Jax struck out the side facing the heart of the Blue Jays lineup for a quick, 11-pitch seventh inning. Then, Jhoan Duran got two quick outs in the eighth but gave up a single to Merrifield, having to face Guerrero Jr. with the game on the line next.

Pete Maki made a mound visit and decided not to intentionally walk the All-Star first baseman. Duran couldn’t retire Guerrero Jr., but he managed to induce weak-enough contact to hold him to a groundball single. Facing Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Duran got the huge final out on a force out, setting Jorge López up for the save. After not capitalizing on leadoff doubles in the seventh and the eighth innings, the Twins had flame-throwing closer López in the ninth to try to hold on to a one-run lead. The All-Star closer lost Bo Bichette to a one-out single but retired Chapman next after a tough at-bat for the second out. However, Danny Jansen and Tapia hit back-to-back singles and scored Bichette. That was López’s third blown save all year.

Offense loads the bases in the 9th, but comes out empty-handed
Gio Urshela was briefly brought into the game in the ninth inning to pinch-hit for León, and for a third consecutive inning, Minnesota had the leadoff man on. He smacked a single off Yimi Garcia, then left the game for pinch-runner Gilberto Celestino. Luis Arráez moved him to second on a groundout, then he reached third on a fielding error by Cavan Biggio. With only one out, the Jays made the bold decision to intentionally walk Polanco and bring none other than Miranda to the plate with the bases loaded. He struck out swinging, and Garcia got Gordon to fly out on the next at-bat, taking the game to extra innings.  The Twins finished regulation with an awful 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

Twins walk off on a couple of defensive mistakes by Toronto
Michael Fulmer, making his second appearance as a Twin, scared us all when he gave up a walk to Guerrero Jr. and a single to Gurriel Jr. to load the bases in the 10th inning. However, he bounced back incredibly by striking out Teoscar Hernández and Bichette. It was again up to the offense to salvage this game. Jake Cave had a great, six-pitch at-bat against Jordan Romano, which ended in a strikeout that Jansen couldn’t hold on to. When he made the throw to first, Guerrero Jr. couldn’t hold on to the ball, and ghost runner Gordon reached third. With two men on and no outs, Beckham grounded to short, and Gordon beat the throw by Chapman at home to win the game.

Postgame interview

What’s Next?
Both teams are back on the field tomorrow for game three, with first pitch scheduled for 6:10 pm CDT. The Twins turn to Dylan Bundy (5.04 ERA), while Mitch White (3.70 ERA) starts the game for Toronto.

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

  MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT
             
Jax 20 24 0 0 11 55
Fulmer 23 0 13 0 15 51
Duran 10 0 19 0 17 46
Pagán 0 16 0 25 0 41
Megill 0 8 0 29 0 37
López 0 0 7 0 30 37
Thielbar 0 0 11 0 0 11
Sands 0 0 0 0 0 0
 

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Old-Timey Member

The twins are really, really bad at the fundamentals of the game. And they aren’t talented enough to be bad at them. 2nd in time in 3 nights a batter has struck out while attempting to sac bunt (granted these are guys who have been in the minor all year). Then 2 obvious baserunning mistakes in the 10th. The of course the complete inability to manufacture runs of any kind. To me, it’s one thing to boot a grounder in the 9th. It’s another to just be coached poorly and lacking in fundamentals 

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19 minutes ago, Aggies7 said:

The twins are really, really bad at the fundamentals of the game.

Agreed. If you are the Twins or a border line hitter, wouldn't you practice bunting for a half hour every day. MLB players are so bad at it now that a border line player could get the last roster spot just because they are a great bunter.

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Verified Member

Gordon's been hitting the ball well lately. Actually, he's been hitting the ball well for quite a while now. The Twins nearly made a big mistake last year. It was clear the intent was to send Gordon to the AAA for the remainder of the season on August 4th last year and nobody really believed the Twins were going to keep him on the 40 man. Instead, Gordon could have easily been doing this someplace else having been written off by Falvey and Levine.

Lamonte Wade and Akil Baddoo have struggled due to SSS and injuries this year, but Tyler Wells has provided solid value as a starter for the Orioles, just 0.1 WAR behind Sonny Gray, the Twins' best starter on the season. If I was watching Nick Gordon play this well elsewhere, I'd be pissed.

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I remember thinking to myself in the bottom of the 10th, why don't they intentionally walk Cave?  His run means nothing, and it sets up a force at every base but home.  Then, later, with 2nd and 3rd, why not intentionally walk Beckham to set up a force at every base including home?  But they never even considered it, from the looks of it.  I have never understood that lack of strategy.  So I looked at our stats for the year, and as an entire team we have only been issued 5 intentional walks all season so far.  And our pitching staff has only issued 4 ourselves.  Seems strange that a strategy so simple is almost gone from the game.  Makes me wonder if that is another of the analytics in play.  

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  • Twins have one big inning and can't add on - again.
  • Contreras, Beckham, Gordon and Miranda drive in the runs without any help from the star players - again. 
  • 5-run lead isn't enough - again.
  • Bullpen blows the save - again. 
  • Baserunning blunders and fundamental mistakes - again.

You get a feeling that if this game was played on the road the Twins would have blown it. Always good to get a win but this game clearly highlighted all of Minnesota's weaknesses. I've never seen a Twins team that's in a pennant race behave so casually when it comes to fundamentals. Still waiting on the big names on the roster to show up. 

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25 minutes ago, bighat said:
  • Twins have one big inning and can't add on - again.
  • Contreras, Beckham, Gordon and Miranda drive in the runs without any help from the star players - again. 
  • 5-run lead isn't enough - again.
  • Bullpen blows the save - again. 
  • Baserunning blunders and fundamental mistakes - again.

You get a feeling that if this game was played on the road the Twins would have blown it. Always good to get a win but this game clearly highlighted all of Minnesota's weaknesses. I've never seen a Twins team that's in a pennant race behave so casually when it comes to fundamentals. Still waiting on the big names on the roster to show up. 

Couldn't agree more, but we have to remember there are certain fundamentals that the computer doesn't believe in, therefore we do not use them or drill them into our team.  Bunting runners along, stealing bases, hit and run usage, and taking extra bases in certain situations go against the analytics, so we don't see them much anymore.  Actually, the play we scored the run on was not a wise move at all, and if Toronto makes a simple defensive play that all teams make every day, and twice on Sunday, we are out and left with 1st and 3rd instead of 2nd and third.  It was obvious the contact play was on, but it was not a play most teams use in that situation, being no outs.  You would use it with one out, but not usually with none.  As you said, basic fundamentals.  We do not have them because we do not use them, and we do not use them because we do not believe they produce desired results.  But the lack of them really shows at times.

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Glad we won. The take aways are that you cannot judge the trades at the moment of excitement.  I remember one post - we have our game one starter! - maybe, but wait and see, last night did not look like it.  We have our closer - another post - last night not so much.  It takes time for players to adjust, but we also have them for the short end of the season.  The stories will play out, but prognostication is a difficult talent to master. 

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3 hours ago, Mark G said:

I remember thinking to myself in the bottom of the 10th, why don't they intentionally walk Cave?  His run means nothing, and it sets up a force at every base but home.  Then, later, with 2nd and 3rd, why not intentionally walk Beckham to set up a force at every base including home?  But they never even considered it, from the looks of it.  I have never understood that lack of strategy.  

Their runs may not mean anything, but their outs surely do. The Jays still needed 3 outs before the runner crossed home, and they viewed Cave and Beckham as good chances for those outs — and they were very nearly right, as neither Cave nor Beckham got the ball out of the infield.

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A win is a win. We did not deserve to win, but with the craziest methods and luck we did. Kudos to Cave for his hustle on an obvious out, gutsy performance by Fulmer for getting those strikeouts with two on and Gordon with the bat and speed. 

Two plays that were for sure outs that were turned to fortune and success leading to a win caused by sure hustle. This saved a game that once again the Twins deserved to lose because they simply turn to stone when they have runners in winning position with no or one outs. This club is petrified wood with situational hitting. But we got a WIN!!!!!

Best part was Cleveland lost and we picked up a game. GO TWINS!

Twins Geezer.... out!

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Mark G said:

I remember thinking to myself in the bottom of the 10th, why don't they intentionally walk Cave?  His run means nothing, and it sets up a force at every base but home.  Then, later, with 2nd and 3rd, why not intentionally walk Beckham to set up a force at every base including home?  But they never even considered it, from the looks of it.  I have never understood that lack of strategy.  So I looked at our stats for the year, and as an entire team we have only been issued 5 intentional walks all season so far.  And our pitching staff has only issued 4 ourselves.  Seems strange that a strategy so simple is almost gone from the game.  Makes me wonder if that is another of the analytics in play.  

So, score tied, home team batting in the bottom of the 9th or later, runner on second, 0 out. Anyone know how to find the statistic of how frequently an IBB is issued? I would guess far less than 50%.

There is much to consider beyond just setting up force plays. Who is following in the lineup or available to pinch hit? Does the pitcher have good control? Is the pitcher skilled at inducing ground balls? Which fielders are playing? And more. Also consider that if the lead runner makes an out there is a runner on base that wouldn't have been there otherwise.

With runners on second and third those issues are amplified, plus an IBB brings into play that a subsequent BB, HBP, or catcher's interference loses the game.

When Joe Maddon was managing TB he once ordered a bases-loaded IBB. Not in this situation, obviously, but his team wound up winning that game.

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Nice to win one that looked like was going to be another blown game.  On paper the next two games look difficult.  We have Bundy with an ERA over 5 then  4 inning Archer on Sunday.  Glad we won Friday because Saturday and Sunday look like tough matchups.  Come on now, any time I see Bundy then Archer back to pitching it's guaranteed a heavy bullpen usage and likely blow out losses.  Then we get to go play the Dodgers.  Good thing is after that we have several winnable games with Angels, Royals, and Rangers

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6 hours ago, Drake2020 said:

When Nick Gordon hit that home run tonight and I saw Jake Cave in the background on the on deck circle watching it... I was remined of Delmon Young watching from the same on deck circle as Jim Thome hit a bomb against the White Sox about a decade ago!  

Delmon.JPG

Nick Gordon.JPG

Cave and fans in amazement! Rocco..unaware. Maybe he was pumped one second later, but just looks funny! Love the guy in the black shirt with glasses! lol

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9 hours ago, ashbury said:

Gordon for me has been the surprise of the season.  I didn't think he had it in him.  But he's a major leaguer.

Yeah I was a huge, huge doubter.  I had already predicted he would be off the roster by the end of this year.  So I guess I get to eat crow for a while.  Congrats to Gordon for proving so many of us wrong.  I think Doc had mentioned this before that if Gordon could ever get healthy for a long stretch he would look different. I guess he was right.,

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1 hour ago, chinmusic said:

Way to go, Nick Gordon. Taking it to another level! Loved the breast stroke at home plate in the bottom of the tenth. 

Kudo's to the Twins for having to go with a lineup not remotely resembling the "A" team, and finding a way to win.👍

I shook my head at that line-up, too.

Kudos to new pitcher Mahle for reinforcing that Rocco should never let a starter pitch into the sixth inning.

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When other teams win vs the Twins in a manner of last night's game they are referred to as "opportunistic" or "savvy". When the Twins benefit from a poor play by the opponent they are characterized on this site as "lucky" "fundamentally weak" or a "mirage". 

To each his own is an apt phrase for Twins fans. I am enjoying. this Twins team, a pennant race and the possibilities that postseason games present.

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